Cost of living: Disabled mum struggles to feed child as universal credit ‘doesn’t go far’ | Personal Finance | Finances

Charlene, a 36-year-old single mother, epitomizes the struggles faced by millions as they grapple to sustain growth accounts in the face of financial uncertainty. Dependent on Universal Credit, Charlene finds the assistance insufficient in meeting her family’s basic needs, exacerbated by her inability to work due to mental health issues and a chronic lung condition. Her dire situation highlights a broader issue: households with children are disproportionately affected, facing late payments for bills, debts, and housing.


Recent analysis by Action for Children underscores this crisis, emphasizing that families, particularly single parents like Charlene, feel the pressure acutely. The charity advocates for urgent government intervention, urging an increase in social security levels in line with inflation in the Autumn Report. Furthermore, they propose reforms in the Cost of Living Payments, accounting for family size to provide targeted aid.

Charlene’s distress is palpable as she confesses to skipping meals and rationing food to ensure her daughter’s well-being. The situation intensifies during school holidays when providing daily hot meals becomes a daunting challenge. Heating their home, crucial due to Charlene’s chronic lung condition and her daughter’s asthma, becomes financially burdensome, leading to further anguish as Charlene struggles to fulfill her parental responsibilities.

Action for Children’s analysis reveals a grim reality: 1.5 million homes are classified as “in serious financial difficulty,” reflecting the severe extent of the crisis. The charity advocates for tangible changes, including increasing the child element of Universal Credit and lifting benefit caps, measures that could lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

Paul Carberry, CEO of Action for Children, emphasizes that low-income families, particularly single parents, face overwhelming challenges. With rising prices across the economy and food inflation at nearly 14 percent, the cost of living crisis looms large. Urgent government action is imperative, necessitating benefits to rise in tandem with inflation and a reformed approach to Cost of Living Payments that considers family size.

Despite these challenges, Charlene finds solace in organizations like Action for Children, which provide essential support. While the government asserts its commitment to supporting struggling families, the reality faced by Charlene and others like her underscores the urgency for immediate, comprehensive action.

Leave a Comment